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Lennon Bone

Song premiere: "Bad Production" by The Good Hearts

The Deli KC is happy to premiere the debut single from The Good Hearts, “Bad Production.”
This new trio is headed up by Nicole Springer, best known for her work in The Clementines. “About a year ago, I found myself losing my confidence in music. Rather than give up on it entirely, I decided it was time to start a new project that might help inspire me again,” she says. Though The Good Hearts’ music is tinged with the same soulfully driven folk pop elements  as The Clementines, the addition of violinist Roshelle Pekarek and cellist Anna Cook has allowed Springer to take new directions with her songs.
“I loved the idea of writing very intimate songs and arranging them with string players,” says Springer, who has been able to further explore the depths and possibilities of her songwriting through this project. “Once Roshelle, Anna, and I started working on my material, I knew I had found my happiness in music again.”
“Bad Production” was recorded and produced by Lennon Bone.
--Michelle Bacon

The Good Hearts will be making their debut live performance this Sunday, December 13, at recordBar. Show starts at 8 pm. Facebook event page. You can also catch them at Coda for MudStomp Records’ Saturday Afternoon Stomp on December 19 at 3 pm. Facebook event page. 

Album review: Lennon Bone - Call It A Custom (EP)

Awhile back I spoke of the redeeming values of the EP during my review of the latest Katy Guillen and the Girls release (see that review here). I mentioned that one of two ways that the short-form album works best is to give a newer artist a chance to get their music out more quickly than waiting to have enough material for a full-length album. The second benefit of the EP, in my mind, is to let established artists work on their craft by experimenting with new material or a new sound, and in the process exploring their own capabilities.
Enter Lennon Bone, the drummer and co-vocalist for Ha Ha Tonka (a quick side note: if you haven’t already done so, add Ha Ha Tonka’s new album Lessons to your music collection as soon as possible). Bone, founder of Sharp County Records, released his first solo effort, Lost/Accolades, in late 2011—an eight-track album that was more like two EPs of vastly diverse inspiration joined together. It was his debut as a solo artist, giving him a chance to see where he could take his music on his own, and the results were very well received. Now he offers another four-track mini-album, Call It A Custom, which not only reveals Bone as having more confidence to express his voice and individuality, but also shows a conscious effort to establish himself as a man of his own style and not one to lean on the success of his collaborations with his bandmates. Bone looks upon his solo work as a way to express the musical side of him that he doesn’t have the opportunity to follow through with Ha Ha Tonka, but he readily admits that his band probably does influence him in a subliminal way.
He certainly fills the shoes of one-man band quite nicely; the credits prove that Bone isn’t content to just sit behind a drum kit, as he provides vocals, guitars, bass, trumpet, keys, and computer wizardry as well as percussion duties. The result is a sound that’s gentle, warm, sleepy, and unhurried—making Call It A Custom an easier-than-easy listen. From the retro-Casio sound lending a sterile comfort to the opening track, “They All Seem To Know” to the reservedly-bouncy “Sinking Feelings” to the sublime slither and Tom Petty-esque feel of “Leave It To Us” to the atmospheric stop-and-go of the title track, Bone covers quite a bit of territory in fifteen short minutes. It’s a journey that he seemingly enjoys taking… and one that may be more of a reality at an undetermined point. When asked if he would like to eventually take his own music on the road, Bone said that it’s a possibility but many factors would have to be weighed before making that jump—putting a band together, booking shows while working around Ha Ha Tonka’s schedule, and most important of all, being a doting father to his baby daughter Brada.
Whether a full-fledged tour ever happens, it’s clear that Lennon Bone is a gifted musician and songwriter in his own right. With the wonderfully-presented Call It A Custom furthering his overall musical output, both as a band member and an individual artist, it appears that one could look at his career thus far…


…and call it a good one.
--Michael Byars 

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Album review: Ha Ha Tonka - Lessons

Nothing is more exhilirating than the feelings that accompany the birth of autumn. The air turns crisp and the colors become more vibrant, indicating the end of pool parties and beginning of bonfires and pumpkin patches, but also the impending promise of winter's chill. It brings with it a mood that is at once galvanizing, uneasy, and contemplative. Ha Ha Tonka's latest LP Lessons—released on Bloodshot Records just in time for the changing of the season—provides the soundtrack to that atmosphere, presenting a majestic, warm sound with delicate undertones.
Ha Ha Tonka has come a long way since its previous release, 2011's Death of A Decade. The group has completed several US tours with the likes of Langhorne Slim, Murder By Death, Reverend Horton Heat, The Old 97s, and many more. Back in June, Tonka completed its second European tour (link to our article on the tour with drummer Lennon Bone) and has gotten a steady amount of buzz that’s only increased since the first track from Lessons, “Colorful Kids,” debuted back in July in Spin.
But most of all, Lessons represents the maturing sound of a band that has grown collectively as musicians and individually as men.
Brian Roberts, Brett Anderson, Lucas Long, and Lennon Bone have been making music together for nearly a decade—nine years to be exact (three of those years were spent under a different moniker; Ha Ha Tonka has been a band since 2007)— and Lessons is the culmination of their refined musical abilities and personalities. This is probably most evident in the title track, which eases in like that first slow, cathartic pull off a cigarette after a long, stress-filled day. The vocals build from a delicate chant (“I can’t keep learning the same lessons over again / I keep learning the same lessons over”) into a compelling drone, while Anderson’s electric guitar squeals over ambient effects. Roberts has fully embraced his capabilities as a charismatic but formidable frontman—he has a penchant for intermingling a gentle, doleful tone (“I try to kick so many habits that I hold / but they hold onto me even when I let go of them”) with a dynamic battle cry as the song reaches its apex (“My heart is hurting / I don’t know when to say when”), careening into the ghostly four-part-harmony mantra.
From lead-off track “Dead to the World,” it’s indisputable that Tonka has carved out a new path with this LP (which was inspired by the writings of Maurice Sendak). The track features Rob Moose (who has worked with artists including Paul McCartney, Rufus Wainwright, and The National) on strings, who creates a rich, opulent foundation that lingers until the final note of the album. Somehow, the band creates a colossal environment around the string arrangement, with Bone’s textural cymbal accents, Anderson’s mandolin riffs—which continually become a more crucial element of the band’s sound—and Long’s punctuated but fundamental bass lines.
From there, the album shifts seamlessly through heartfelt interludes and transitions. Ushered in by the forlorn thirty-second interlude “Synthetic Love,” “Arabella” features Anderson on lead vocals and represents the haunting, desperate purity of the band’s evolving songwriting style. It also demonstrates a respect the musicians have for their craft; they exercise self-restraint in the music without leaving out critical elements. They emphasize the strengths of each piece of each song and adorn them with nuances that sometimes may take a few listens to catch. But they are worth catching.
Make no mistake: though Tonka’s sound has become more refined, it is still steeped in the same Ozark tradition, charm, and authenticity that its fans appreciate. Produced by Dan Molad (Lucius) and The Ryantist (Antennas Up) with assistant engineer Jacob Goldman, it seems that Lessons was an opportunity for the band to experiment with methods it hadn’t before—methods that would enhance and cultivate its existing sound. For instance, in “Rewrite Our Lives,” the vocal harmonies were sung through a large kick drum, giving it an enormous, celestial presence; this is also Roberts’ most earnest and resolute vocal performance on the entire album. Bone pointed out in a previous interview with The Deli KC that “it’s still totally us, but it’s like the Tonka we’ve always wanted to be.”
At first blush, the ornate instrumentation and subtleties seem like an attempt toward a kinder, gentler, more radio-friendly Tonka. But with each listen, each member’s individual stories and characters unfold. And although it lacks some of the Southern rock grit that made Death of A Decade the success it was, Lessons more than makes up for it with a stronger sense of self-awareness and development. It tells a story that reads more fluidly and gracefully than any of Tonka’s previous efforts.
Tonight, you can catch Ha Ha Tonka in Columbia outside of Mojo’s at Forrest Rose Park with Amanda Shires and Man in the Ring. Show starts at 8:00 pm. Tomorrow, the band will travel to Lawrence to play The Bottleneck with Shires, Til Willis and Erratic Cowboy. Show starts at 9:00 pm. Facebook event page. You can see the rest of the tour schedule below.
Newly released video for “American Ambition,” an acoustic version performed by Brian Roberts:

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also plays drums Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines. Lennon Bone is her archdrumnemesis. He's winning that and their beard-off.

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Touring Europe with Ha Ha Tonka: An interview with Lennon Bone

The last time we caught up with Lennon Bone, he was getting ready to embark on Ha Ha Tonka’s first European tour (see our interview with him). Now the group has just come off its second European tour (literally—they just returned to the US today), which has proven to be successful. Ha Ha Tonka has also been busy at work on a follow-up album to its critically-acclaimed 2011 LP Death of A Decade. Read on to find out more about their travels and what they have in the works.
The Deli: Where in Europe have you toured?
Lennon Bone: We started out in Prague, went through Germany, the UK, The Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden to go. 6 weeks total. 
The Deli: Coolest place you visited?
Bone: Prague and Dresden are the most beautiful places I've ever seen. So old and amazing. The architecture is so spectacular, it's like being in a book or something. Not to mention all the history that you hear about, but becomes so much more apparent when you actually see things like soot on buildings from where they were bombed, or gold placards on the footsteps of doors that show when a Jew was ejected from their apartment building. It's pretty intense stuff. 
Hamburg is the most fun city we've been in, I think. We saw the sun rise two days in a row and the people weren't even close to done partying. To list a few of the events we saw take place: a drunk Brit stripped down to his underwear and jumped off his party barge and had to be rescued before he drowned; someone actually died just before the show right next door to the venue we played; we saw a ton of prostitutes next to Burger King; we chased down a guy that stole some girl’s phone, and just had an absolute blast. It was a wild couple of days. 
The Deli: What's the most fun venue you've played so far?
Bone: Hmmm.... that's a tough one. The most fun venue would probably have been in London, for me. Great crowd, pretty packed and it was a Tuesday night. Over 100 different bourbons to try. Plus we got fed by some friends that work at a restaurant called River Cafe the night before. To give you an idea of how posh this place is, Elton John is doing a private event there next month and dudes like Bono and Chris Martin frequent the restaurant. 
The Deli: How have these European tours changed your perspectives as a band?
Bone: I think it's made us reevaluate our plan as a business. We see the potential in all of these new markets, and have an opportunity to break out somewhere besides the States, which can also help our draw within the States. 7 months ago we were arguing whether or not we would even be able to do a European tour, and now we've spent 3 months there in that time. 
As far as our relationships, it helps keep us all positive to do new things. We've toured the States so much in the past 8 years that we recognize gas stations from coast to coast.... it's revitalizing to see new territory and even get lost now and again. 
The Deli: What's changed and what have you learned since your first European tour?
Bone: We learned a LOT about how to save money from really screwing up on the last one. Everything from getting cheaper ferry rides to buying water at a grocery store (at a gas station it's 2 euro 60 per small bottle... You can get 8 liters for the same price at a store) and recycling the bottles (Bottles are worth .25 each). 
We've seen some markets like London and Ireland grow exponentially, which is great. We had two pre-sold out shows in Ireland. I think they were sold out almost 3 weeks in advance, one of them around 6 weeks out. So, we're seeing that things could go really well if we treat it all correctly. 
The Deli: How have crowds responded to the music? Do you plan to go back?
Bone: Crowd reception has been great! Even at the smaller shows, people seem to get rowdy and be really appreciative of us coming over here to play for them. We're already making plans to come back next year.
The Deli: There are a lot of bands that have pipe dreams about going on an overseas tour. What is your best advice to any KC band looking to do this?
Bone: My best advice would be to tour the States relentlessly before going anywhere else. We've been touring nationally for nearly 9 years now, and if we didn't have the knowledge we've learned from being on the road at home, we could have easily lost so much money being in Europe. I mean, we lost some money on the first trip anyway. It's just really expensive to make it happen. Promoters over there actually do their job as well. One of our booking agents is so committed to knowing how things are going that he's jumping in the van with us for a week. That being said, if we didn't have the tour history at home that has also brought us press that they can see, we wouldn't be having this amount of interest here… at least I don't think. If you want to tour and have it be successful, you just have to know how to tour, period. It's much cheaper to get your feet wet in the States before possibly losing your ass overseas. On the other hand, if you just want to take a vacation and play some shows, go ahead and book your tickets. Just like anywhere else, I'm sure you could find some places to play. It's really just about what your goals are. 
The Deli: Tell us a bit about the album you're currently working on. What can we expect?
Bone: The album is officially done, and we've never been so excited about something that we've made. It's still totally us, but it's like the Tonka we've always wanted to be, if that makes any sense. It was produced by Dan Molad out of Brooklyn and The Ryantist from here in Kansas City. In my opinion, two of the best producers that nobody's really heard of. Yet. I'm not saying our record is their ticket, I'm just saying that these guys were my personal first pick from day one because they're outstanding at their jobs. We've grown enough as a band that we were ready to really include the producer in the role of constructing and rethinking the songs, and Dan and The Ryantist really helped bring them to life in a way we never expected. 
We recorded the bulk of the album in Omaha where they did all the Bright Eyes and Monsters of Folk records. The whole team is basically the same age, and we're used to working with producers that are older than us. For me it really felt like we were the junior high kids trying to show up the high schoolers. We just had all these mics and snare drums and shit everywhere in the room. Double-necked guitars, synths, organs, whatever... and we just had the best time making an album. We went back to recording live, so all the basics are the four of us (or sometimes the producers would just hit record and join us in the room to play other things) playing together. It just feels good to me. I can't wait for people to hear it. 
We're planning on a fall release. We’ll take off after this next US tour for a few months and get all the logistics of the new album worked out so we can start a full nationwide tour at the end of September.
The boys will be returning to the mainland and playing in Kansas City on Friday, June 14. They’ll be supporting Reverend Horton Heat at CrossroadsKC at Grinder’s. After that, they’ll head on a short US tour with Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin. Visit the band’s website to see the rest of the US tour dates.

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also holds down half the rhythm section in Drew Black & Dirty Electric and Dolls on Fire. Her?

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The Deli KC & Sharp County Records Present: The Fallout Series

(Poster design by Rebecca Armstrong)
The Deli KC is proud to present our second showcase—a partnership with Sharp County Records, called The Fallout Series: A House Show Extravaganza. Though our first showcase was held in one of our favorite Kansas City music venues, this one will take place in a more intimate setting (location disclosed only to ticket holders) to help further build the sense of community in KC music that The Deli and Sharp County hope to promote. We’ll be hosting some of the excellent local performers: Elkheart (featuring members of Sons of Great Dane and Cherokee Rock Rifle), Hidden Pictures, and Betse Ellis.
The showcase will be next Thursday, December 20. Doors open at 8:30 pm and the show kicks off at 9 pm sharp. Tickets cost $10, and also include 2 beers and a digital download of the show. Beer will be available throughout the show, or you can bring your own.
TICKETS ARE PRE-SALE ONLY AND ARE FIRST COME FIRST SERVE! WE’RE ONLY SELLING 35! Email sharpcountyrecords@gmail.com to purchase your ticket(s) and receive the location address. If your name is not on the list, you WILL NOT be let in the door. Tickets are going fast, so get yours now!
Following the show, we will be heading to the local watering hole for some fine cheap booze/brews and free social interactions.
The location will only be disclosed to those attending. It is in close proximity to the downtown KC area.
Finally, if any artists are interested in showing their art at this event, please email the address above. We hope to see you there!

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